(Halifax, NS) – The Ontario wheelchair basketball team cruised past Saskatchewan 71-45 in their 2011 Canada Games semi-final match on Wednesday and will now compete for gold in the tournament championship game against a yet to be determined opponent.
The Championship game will be played Thursday February 17 at 7:00PM against the winner of the other semi-final between the 2-time defending champion Quebec and Manitoba (game start: today at 5:00pm).
The bronze medal game will take place Thursday February 17 at 5:00PM.
Ontario came out flying to start the game, outscoring Saskatchewan 27-4 in the opening quarter. The team showed no signs of slowing down in the second frame. Ontario shot 22-for-44 from the floor in the first half and at one point held a 35 point lead over the opponent.
Ontario’s Dayton Sopha scored a game high 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists, falling just shy of the triple-double. Jesse McNalley also hit the scoreboard for Ontario with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Shayne Smith and Kevin Wakeling added 10 points each.
“It went really well against Saskatchewan. We played really well and it was a lot of fun. Every game is a big step up,” said Ontario player Jesse McNalley.
Saskatchewan struggled to find the hoop in the first half, converting 6 out of 23 shot attempts for a total of 12 points after two quarters. The team showed no quit going into the second half and rallied in the third frame to outscore Ontario 21-3. In the end, the deficit was too much to overcome.
Preliminary round scoring leader Nikola Goncin dropped 25 points and 14 rebounds to earn the double-double for Saskatchewan. Jared Sajtos scored 8 points and Kyran Miller added 6 points for the team.
“It started off a little slow and our team had a little trouble getting started, but we picked it up in the third quarter and got the score a little closer. Our team improved a lot throughout the game. Some of our rookies did really well. They stepped it up and played to the intensity we needed and we’re really proud of our team,” said Saskatchewan assistant coach Joelle Buckle.
Team Ontario will finish on the podium for the fifth consecutive Canada Winter Games. The team last captured a silver medal at the Games in 2007.
Team Saskatchewan will look to win back-to-back bronze medals at the Canada Winter Games following a third place finish in 2007.
#2 Ontario (4-0) will play in the Championship game against the winner of the other semi-final game Thursday February 17 at 7:00PM.
#5 Saskatchewan (3-2) will face the loser of the other semi-final in the Bronze Medal game Thursday February 17 at 5:00PM.
For more information, please visit www.canadagames2011.ca or www.wheelchairbasketball.ca, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WCBballCanada or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wheelchairbasketball.